Not many months ago, though it seems by now almost another life, Adam received an email out of the blue inviting him to participate in a research project starting up at the University of Vienna in Austria. We had quite settled in to life back in Alabama. We enjoyed the proximity of family. I discovered Red Mountain Community School which was a saving grace for our homeschool year last year and a great inspiration, so much that I was anticipating the boys and I going full time this year—them to classes and me for an apprenticeship with the hopes of opening another branch of the school closer to home the following year. Adam was occupied with his work for HMML and other projects on the side. The kitchen was remodeled. Furniture was built. We had neighbors with kids move in next door that the boys loved to play with. It was a good life and we were happy there, but an invitation to spend five years in Vienna, to learn a new language and culture and have the opportunities to travel and see new places seemed like too great an opportunity to pass up. And so we said yes.
At first it seemed far away—a year perhaps before we would leave, after the next school year. Then we moved up the date to January, thinking the boys could start school there after the winter break; it would give us one more Christmas in Alabama. After talking with the project director however, an earlier arrival seemed necessary and the date of October the 13th was selected. Our thoughts became full of Passports and Visas and a place to live and German learning. We began to stop accumulating and start the long and sometimes agonizing process of purging our possessions. A spring garage sale, then a summer one, lots of things listed for sale on Craigslist, the transition to one car. Every visit spent with family became all the more precious. We made lists of things we would like to do before we left. A visit to Pump it Up, baseball, McDonald’s ice-cream, a trip to the beach, time with grandparents. We drove to DC for our visa applications where we were greeted with a complimentary extra room to accommodate our large family. We also got an early appointment at the Embassy and were able to drive back home a day before we thought. We found a delightful lady to rent a furnished apartment for a month from in Austria, complete with toys and movies and beds for all seven of us. We read about Austria and discovered there are ninety museums in Vienna alone. We discovered fun places we want to visit: the Riesenrad (a giant ferris wheel) and Mozart’s chocolate and a sausage stand that serves a 2 kilo sausage called Big Mama’s sausage. We’ve looked at how far it is to get to Budapest and Tbilisi and the Mediterranean Sea. We have wondered what it will be like to live in a big city with no car, to speak a new language we don’t know, to have the children go off to school. I have wondered what my days will look like, what I will love, what I will miss. We have wept over all we are leaving behind, the things we have to say no to in order to say yes to this new and unknown adventure. For those of you we have left behind, we know it is costly to you. It is for us also. The boys have embraced the adventure. I am so proud of them. They have been great through all the chaos of sorting and packing and trying to get things done.
And so here we are so soon and after so much planning, sitting on a plane ready to venture off to the beautiful land of Austria. Our door is always open for visitors.